Little Legs watched Minnie Mouse on the screen on the wall, while reclined on a green, plastic covered chair with a paper towel clipped to his shirt. He was quite pleased with the situation. He had just eaten all the pink, cake flavored toothpaste from the dental hygienist’s silver toothpaste nub and was watching cartoons before noon.
Life was pretty good.
I corralled Baby Brother in the corner and watched the patient revel in his excellent fortune. He smacked his lips and turned around in search of more toothpaste.
“Ok, Doctor Too Tall is going to take a quick peek in your mouth,” the hygienist explained.
“Where is Doctor X?” I asked.
“She got a job offer that she couldn’t refuse,” she whispered.
“Howdy, partner,” Doctor Too Tall (and loud) swaggered into the cubical.
The cowboy-dentist wore jeans with a crease down the center of each leg, white from being re-ironed after every wash. I imagined he was the kind of man who also insisted that his underwear was ironed, folded, and shelved, instead of tossed into a pile and shoved into a drawer.
Doctor Too Tall leaned down and pulled Little Legs’ mouth out to one side. He poked at his teeth with a shiny, mirrored instrument until Little Legs clamped his jaws shut with a “humph” of finality. As far as Little Legs was concerned, the peek-show was over.
“How do his back teeth look, Doc?” I asked, distracting Baby Brother with a sample toothbrush.
On a nightly basis, we wrangled with the boy to brush his teeth. It was logical that a few were missed in the wrestling match, especially the hard-to-reach ones. Out of sight, out of mind.
“Well, it is hard to tell which is why he should be with a pediatric dentist.”
I felt like the words were knocked out of my mouth, I was temporarily speechless.
“We like coming here because its only a few minutes from our house,” I ventured weakly, trying to make peace.
“And that’s the difference between doing the easy thing and the right thing.”
With that, he breezed out.
Not another word was mentioned.
He was off to rope a horse and some bedside manner.